Mike Marlar at Lernerville Speedway. (Paul Arch photo)
SARVER, Pa. — Mike Marlar overtook race leader Ashton Winger on lap four and held off a furious late-race charge by Brandon Overton to win preliminary night No. 1 of the 16th annual Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway.
Marlar earned $6,000 for the 30-lap victory, his first this season with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Overton came home in second followed by four-time series champion Earl Pearson Jr., series leader points Brandon Sheppard, and Tyler Erb, who rounded out the top five.
Winger, currently the top driver in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Rookie-of-the-Year chase led the first three laps from his pole starting spot before yielded the point to Marlar, who had started alongside him.
Marlar had Pearson and Overton breathing down his neck in the race for the lead. A red flag with eight laps in for Chub Frank, who rolled his car his turn two, halted the race. Frank emerged uninjured in the mishap.
When the race went back green Marlar steadily pulled away from the battle for second between Pearson and Overton. Overton eventually cleared Pearson for second and set his sights on Marlar who was having to negotiate heavy traffic in the waning laps of the race.
With a few laps to go there were no lapped cars between the top two drivers, but Marlar, who nearly slipped over the turn two embankment was able to regroup and get to the finish line winning by 1.063 seconds over the reigning Firecracker 100 winner.
“I kind of figured out what my car needed there and drove around a couple of issues I was having,” Marlar said after his 17th career LOLMDS triumph. “With this tough of competition that is here you can’t be messing around out there. The guys in front of me there at the end was messing with my air. I just about went out of there a couple of times. It was definitely an awesome race track we used every bit of it, on the bottom, the top, the middle, and everywhere. Lernerville always provides an awesome track.”
Overton, who finished third behind Chris Madden and Jonathan Davenport in last week’s $50,000 to win Mountain Moonshine Classic at Smoky Mountain Speedway charged from fifth to the runner-up spot at Lernerville.
“We definitely put ourselves in a good position on the first night,” Overton said. “The track was so good on the bottom, and you could sling the crumbs up the track. You could move around a little, the car felt really good in the middle of the track. We will continue to work on it and give it another shot tomorrow night.”
“It was a good points night for us, it will get us lined-up well for a heat race for Saturday if we have a good run tomorrow,” said Pearson, who rounded out the podium in third. “For my guys they did an outstanding job. The track was pretty racy there. Overton seemed to be pretty good through the middle and Marlar was good around the top there and I just stayed around the bottom. We will work on it tomorrow and see if we get a few more spots tomorrow night.”
Feature (30 laps): 1. 157-Mike Marlar; 2. 76-Brandon Overton; 3. 46-Earl Pearson Jr; 4. 1-Brandon Sheppard; 5. 1T-Tyler Erb; 6. 49-Jonathan Davenport; 7. 58W-Mark Whitener; 8. 39-Tim McCreadie; 9. 89-Ashton Winger; 10. 58-Garrett Alberson; 11. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr; 12. 71-Hudson O’Neal; 13. 72-Michael Norris; 14. 22F-Chris Ferguson; 15. 0-Scott Bloomquist; 16. 18D-Daulton Wilson; 17. 0E-Rick Eckert; 18. 20-Jimmy Owens; 19. 21L-Matt Lux; 20. 48-Colton Flinner; 21. 3RK-Daryl Charlier; 22. 7T-Drake Troutman; 23. 1*-Chub Frank; 24. J4-John Garvin Jr